Rossie O. Knight and the WWI Victory Medal

Rossie O. Knight (1892-1963)

Rossie O. Knight as a young Soldier. Born August 28, 1892, Rossie O. Knight grew up in Ray City, GA.

Rossie O. Knight as a young Soldier. Born August 28, 1892, Rossie O. Knight grew up in Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation, http://www.berriencountyga.com

Rossie O. Knight was a son of Sovin J. Knight and Ann Eliza Allen,  and grew up on his parents’ farm near Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He moved with his parents to the area of Barney, GA in 1911. His father, Sovin J. Knight, died April 16, 1911 shortly after the move.

Rossie joined the Army in 1913. He was stationed at Fort Hancock, NJ until August 1917 when he shipped out to France with the 1st Division.

WW1 Victory Medal US 1st Div of the type awarded to Rossie O. Knight.

WW1 Victory Medal US 1st Div of the type awarded to Rossie O. Knight.  Image source: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/169740-ww1-5-bar-victory-medal/

Rossie O. Knight’s service records show he participated in four major 1918 offensives of World War I: Montdidier-Noyon, Ainse-Marne, Saint Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne.  He also served in the Toul Defensive Sector. In recognition of this service he received the WWI Victory Medal with five clasps.

Wikipedia provides the following description of the Victory Medal:

 “The front of the bronze medal features a winged Victory holding a shield and sword on the front. The reverse features ‘THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILIZATION’ in all capital letters curved along the top of the medal. Curved along the bottom of the back of the medal are six stars, three on either side of the center column of seven staffs wrapped in a cord. The top of the staff has a round ball on top and is winged on the side. The staff is on top of a shield that says “U” on the left side of the staff and “S” on the right side of the staff. On left side of the staff it lists one World War I Allied country per line: France, Italy, Serbia, Japan, Montenegro, Russia, and Greece. On the right side of the staff the Allied country names read: Great Britain (at the time the common term for the United Kingdom), Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, Rumania (spelled with a U instead of an O as it is spelled now), and China.  Battle clasps, inscribed with a battle’s name, were worn on the medal to denote participation in major ground conflicts.  For general defense service, not involving a specific battle, the “Defensive Sector” Battle Clasp was authorized. The Defensive Sector clasp was also awarded for any battle which was not already recognized by its own battle clasp.”

The Victory Medals were awarded after the end of World War I.  Veterans completed an “Application for Victory Medal” and the medals were mailed to the servicemen instead of awarded in person. For example, the boxes containing the Victory Medals for United States Army World War I veterans were mailed out by the depot officer at the General Supply Depot, U.S. Army, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April 1921. An outer light brown box with an address label glued to it and its postage area marked “OFFICIAL BUSINESS, Penalty for private use $300” contained an inner white box stamped with the bars the serviceman was supposed to receive on his medal. The inner white box contained the medal, which was wrapped in tissue paper.

 

Rossie O. Knight Application for Victory Medal, WWI

Rossie O. Knight Application for Victory Medal, WWI

Rossie O. Knight WWI service record

Rossie O. Knight WWI service record

Rossie O. Knight arrived with the 1st Division in Europe on August 7, 1917.  According to the First Division Museum at Cantigny:

The 1st Infantry Division was literally America’s first division. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, it had no divisions. President Woodrow Wilson promised the Allies he would send “a division” to France immediately. Four infantry regiments (16th, 18th, 26th and 28th) and three artillery regiments (5th, 6th and 7th) were ordered from the Mexican border in Texas to Hoboken, NJ, to board transports for France. On June 8, 1917, Brigadier General William Sibert assumed command of them as the “First Expeditionary Division.” Organized as a “square” division of more than 28,000 men, the First Division was twice the size of either the Allied or German divisions on the Western Front.

From September 21, 1917 to August 6, 1919 Rossie O. Knight served with Company C, 1st Division Ammunition Train (1 Div Am Tn on his service record).  Fellow Berrien countian John Bullock Gaskins was also serving in Company B, of the 1st Division Ammunition Train. The Ammunition Train was a convoy of trucks and wagons:  “For a Division, the ammunition train consists normally of four wagon companies and four truck companies.  This very important unit carries rifle ammunition to the Infantry, and shells to the Artillery.  Usually, the moving of ammunition is accomplished under cover of darkness, but in the big offensives the ammunition trucks are kept going day and night.”

WWI Soldiers loading ammunition for transportation

WWI Soldiers loading ammunition for transportation

The First Division won the first American victory in World War I at the Battle of Cantigny. Cantigny is a small village north of Paris, in the Picardy region of France. Held by the German Army, Cantigny formed a dangerous salient in the Allied lines. On May 28, 1918, the First Division attacked and defeated the German forces in the village and held it against repeated German counterattacks, despite suffering more than 1,000 casualties. The success raised the Allies’ morale, convinced the British and French that the Americans were capable of operating in independent fighting units, and disproved German propaganda about American incapacity.

From  August 22 to October 18, 1917 the 1st Division Ammunition Train and Rossie O. Knight were attached to the Scottish 15th Division at Le Valdahon, France.  According to the U.S. Army Handbook of Ordnance Data, Valdahon was a Field Artillery training camp, where troops were issued 75-mm guns and 155-mm howitzers, and received technical instruction in their operation.

campvaldahon12

Camp Valdahon, France

 

 

MONTDIDIER-NOYON (June 9-13,1918)

Sergeant Rossie O. Knight and the U.S. 1st Division were assigned to the Montdidier-Noyon sector when the Germans made an offensive  there on June 9-13, 1918.  Service in this sector proved to be typical active trench warfare, and the companies of the Ammunition Train were occupied ferrying small arms munitions and artillery rounds to the front lines.

The German infantry launched an attack on the night of June 8-9, 1918.  Twenty-one German divisions attacked the French on a twenty-three mile front extending from Montdidier, France to the Oise River at Noyon.

Effects of artillery shelling, Montdidier, France, WWI

Effects of British artillery shelling, Montdidier, France, WWI

The main assault was against the left of the French division which was on the right of the U.S. 1st Division; In this action the U.S. 1st Division took artillery fire and repelled diversionary raids. The battle was opened by an intense German artillery bombardment, which began at midnight…there was an extensive use of gas, both chlorine and mustard.  The Germans attempted to neutralize the Allied artillery batteries by firing on them with phosgene and mustard gas. Along the roads shrapnel was used and the front positions were shelled with gas and high explosives. The assault continued during the next five days. Though the U.S. 1st Division was not directly engaged, it was subjected to intense artillery fire and its units participated both defensively and offensively in several raids.  The Germans advanced from 2 to 5 km. (1.2 to 3.1 miles) and came close to breaking the Allied lines. But the French had anticipated the assault, and the counterattack was successful in holding the Germans.  This was the first repulse of a German offensive in 1918, and is regarded by some authorities as the true turning point of the war. Activities then diminished rapidly, relatively speaking, but from the time that the 1st Division captured Cantigny until it turned that sector over to the French, there was continuous heavy shell fire, with gas attacks and many raids, though all of the last mentioned were repulsed successfully.   The fighting was over by June 12, 1918. The fighting capacity of  the  German army was critically damaged with little to show for the heavy losses incurred.  For Rossie O. Knight personally, the Montdidier-Noyon Offensive was up and down. He started out the battle as a Sergeant, but on June 11, 1918 he was busted down to the rank of Private for some unknown infraction.

The Ainse-Marne Offensive (15 July – 6 August 1918)

By the end of June, Rossie O. Knight had at least regained his status as PFC. He continued to serve with the 1st Division Ammunition Train,  keeping the front lines supplied with ammunition through the Allied counter-offensive known as the Aisne-Marne Campaign.  The Ainse-Marne action also known as the Second Battle of the Marne,  began on July 15, 1918 when 23 German divisions attacked the French Fourth Army east of the city of Reims, France.  Just days earlier on July 10th, fellow Berrien countian Lawrence Ryan Judge, a sergeant with the 1st Division’s 26th infantry, was killed in action.

In the Ainse-Marne Offensive, British, French and American troops,  including the U.S. 1st Division, held the Germans back for three days at the Marne River.  Even before the German offensive on the Marne, the Allies had been planning a massive counterattack in the area.

July 1918, men of the US 1st Division waiting to enter the Ainse-Marne Offensive.

July 1918, men of the US 1st Division waiting to enter the Ainse-Marne Offensive.

After three days of fighting at the Marne, it became evident the German offensive was weakening.  The German attack failed when an Allied counterattack led by French forces and including several hundred tanks overwhelmed the Germans on their right flank, inflicting severe casualties.  The Allied counterattack was launched on July 18, with fourteen divisions including the U.S. 1st Division.

 

WWI Ammunition Train, July 18, 1918

WWI Ammunition Train, July 18, 1918

According to J. Rickard,  “All around the line the Allies advanced between two and five miles. That night the Germans were forced to retreat back across the Marne river. The rapid Allied advance threatened German communications within the salient and even offered the chance of trapping the German troops around Château Thierry.”   One Berrien county solider who fought at Château Thierry was Private John Lory McCranie, of Adel, GA.  McCranie was fighting with the 42nd Division and also later saw service at Saint Mihiel, Argonne Forest and Sedan. He died shortly after the war as a result of having been gassed.

1918-7-25-moving-up-to-marne-salient

July 25, 1918. Trains moving up to the Marne salient.

Faced with this massive Allied counterattack the Germans dropped back to form a new defensive line along the line of the Aisne and Velse rivers.  As the Germans fell back and the 1st Division moved up,  Rossie O. Knight also advanced, moving to the rank of Corporal on August 1, 1918.

The new German line began to form up around August 3. On  August 6, the Americans probed the new line and were repulsed, ending the offensive, but the German defeat marked the start of the relentless Allied advance.

Saint Mihiel Offensive (September 12-16, 1918)

Since the fall of 1914, the Germans had occupied the Saint-Mihiel salient, a triangular wedge of land between Verdun and Nancy, in northeastern France. By heavily fortifying the area, the Germans had effectively blocked all rail transport between Paris and the Eastern Front. This position had constantly threatened Paris and forced the Allies to maintain defensive positions. It was at a forward listening post at the front lines of Saint Mihiel that Lorton W. Register, of Ray City, had been killed by artillery shelling in March, 1918.

After the Ainse-Marne Offensive in July, General John J. Pershing and Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch decided that the 1st Army of the AEF should establish its headquarters in the Saint Mihiel sector and challenge the German position there.  The attack at the St. Mihiel Salient was part of a plan by Pershing in which he hoped that the American forces would break through the German lines and capture the fortified city of Metz.  Thus, on September 12, 1918, the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) launched its first major WWI offensive operation as an independent army.

The attack began with the advance of Allied tanks across the trenches at Saint Mihiel, followed closely by the American infantry troops. Foul weather plagued the offensive as much as the enemy troops, as the trenches filled with water and the fields turned to mud, bogging down many of the tanks.

st-mihiel2

Stalled ammunition wagon holding up an advancing column on the second day of the Saint Mihiel Offensive, September 13, 1918

 

The ammunition convoys to which Corp. Rossie O. Knight was assigned worked around the clock for 80 hours to  keep the advancing American troops supplied.  Also present  during the Saint Mihiel Offensive were Lieutenant Asbury Joe Hall, Jr. and Private John Bryan Thomas, both of Adel, GA, and Private Carlie Lawson of Ray City.   Lieutenant Hall was attached to Company “H,” 3rd Infantry and had been in France since January 1918.  During that time he had been gassed once and wounded twice;  Hall’s luck ran out on the second day of the Saint Mihiel Offensive, September 13, 1918 when he was struck and killed by an artillery shell fragment. John Bryan Thomas served on the Ammunition Train for the 5th Division. Thomas contracted Influenza which resulted in his death on August 15, 1918.  Private First Class Carlie Lawson fought at Saint Mihiel with Company G, 11th Infantry.

Supply trains during the St. Mihiel Offensive, September 1918

Supply trains during the St. Mihiel Offensive, September 1918

Despite the conditions, the American attack proved successful—in part because the German command made the decision to abandon the salient—and greatly lifted the morale and confidence of Pershing’s young army. By September 16, 1918, Saint Mihiel and the surrounding area were free of German occupation.

Machine gunners and supply trains at St. Mihiel

Machine gunners and supply trains at St. Mihiel

But the U.S. offensive at St. Mihiel faltered as artillery and food supplies were left behind on the muddy roads. Plans for the attack on Metz had to be given up. As the Germans fell back to new positions the American forces immediately shifted further south where they combined with British and French forces in a new offensive near the Argonne Forest and the Meuse River.

Meuse-Argonne Offensive

In the wake of the U.S.-run attack at Saint Mihiel, some 400,000 U.S. troops were assigned to the region to participate in what was to be the final operation of the war, the Meuse-Argonne offensive, also known as the Battle of the Argonne Forest.  Under the command of  General Pershing, the American-led attack began at 11:30 pm on September 25, 1918  with a six-hour-long  artillery barrage against the German positions. The preliminary bombardment, using some 800 mustard gas and phosgene shells, killed 278 German soldiers and incapacitated more than 10,000.  The infantry assault, carried out by 37 French and American divisions, began at 5:30 the next morning with the support of more than 700 Allied tanks and some 500 aircraft from the U.S. Air Service.  Led by the advancing tanks, the infantry troops advanced against German positions in the Argonne Forest and along the Meuse River aiming to cut off the entire German 2nd Army. By the morning of the following day, the Allies had captured more than 23,000 German prisoners; by nightfall, they had taken 10,000 more and advanced up to six miles in some areas. The Germans continued to fight, however, putting up a stiff resistance.

On September 30, Pershing called a halt to the Meuse-Argonne offensive, but operations were resumed October 4.

The Germans were exhausted, demoralized and plagued by the spreading influenza epidemic, whereas arriving U.S. reinforcements where strengthening the Allied advance.  American reinforcements in transit to Europe included hundreds of Georgia soldiers, dozens from Berrien County, who went down with the ill-fated troopship HMS Otranto off the coast of Islay, Scotland on October 6, 1918. Among the Otranto dead were Rossie’s cousin, Ralph Knight,  and fellow Ray City resident Shellie Lloyd Webb.  About that same time Sammie Mixon of Allenville, GA, who was fighting in the Meuse-Argonne with Company “H”, 18th Regiment, First Division, was wounded in action and died from pneumonia a few days later. In the early morning hours of October 8, 1918 Isaac R. Boyett, of Adel, GA was fighting with Company C, 328th Infantry  in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive near the the French town of La Forge when he was severely wounded by machine gun fire.  Later that same day, Boyett’s regimental mate, Alvin C. York, earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in capturing 132 German soldiers at the village of Châtel-Chéhéry.  Boyett died  of his wounds two days later. Carlie Lawson also fought in the Battle of the Argonne Forest with Company G, 11th Infantry; he returned from the war and lived to be 100 years old.

The German troops stubbornly held on in the Argonne Forest for another month before beginning their final retreat. William Wiley Tison, of  Ray City, was with the 51st Infantry, 6th Division, which participated in the Meuse-Argonne operation from November 1-8, 1918. With arriving U.S. reinforcements the Allies had time to advance some 32 kilometers before the general armistice was announced on November 11, bringing the First World War to a close.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front. It was fought from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice on November 11, a total of 47 days. The battle was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers, and was one of a series of Allied attacks which brought the war to an end. The Meuse-Argonne was the principal engagement of the American Expeditionary Forces during the First World War and was “probably the bloodiest single battle in U.S. history”.

1918 Meuse Argonne

1918 Meuse Argonne

~

From May 1918 to the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the First Division suffered more than 20,000 casualties, including killed, wounded and missing. With commanders such as MG William Sibert, MG Robert L. Bullard and MG Charles P. Summerall, the First Division established a reputation for excellence and esprit de corps.

Post Armistice  Activities  November 12, 1918-August 14, 1919
On November 12, the 1st Division moved into Bois de Romagne.  On Nov 13,  the Division moved via Malancourt and Verdun-sur-Meuse into billets near Domremyla-Canne and Gondrecourt, and prepared for the advance into Germany as a part of the Army of Occupation.

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Mary Elizabeth Clance and William Henry Mixon

Mary Elizabeth Clance and William Henry Mixon came to Ray City, GA some time around 1901 and made it their home for the remainder of their lives.

William Henry Mixon and Mary I. Clance

William Henry Mixon and Mary I. Clance. Image courtesy of http://royalmixon.tribalpages.com/

William Henry Mixon was born November 27, 1854 in Marion County, GA. He was a son of Drucilla Balcom and James  Michael Mixon. His grandfather was Michael Mixon (1794-1838), believed to have been killed in  Lowndes County, GA while fighting in the Indian Wars in 1838. William’s father,  James Michael Mixon (1830-1911),  was a Confederate veteran who was wounded during the Civil War.

William’s parents separated after the Civil War, and William moved with his father to Twiggs County, GA to the home of his great-grandmother, Sena Mixon.   When William’s father moved on to Pulaski County, William stayed behind in Twiggs County. It appears that around 1874, William’s father  moved with his second wife, Amanda Smith, and their minor children from Pulaski County, GA to Lowndes County.  In the census of 1900,  James M. Mixon was enumerated in the Rays Mill district of Berrien County, Georgia Militia District 1144.

According to census records William Henry Mixon married Mary I. Clance about 1880 in Twiggs County, GA. His occupation in 1880 was working as a miller at a grist mill.  Mary Clance was a daughter of Mary L. Blaylock and Wiley Clance. Her father once served as Justice of the Peace for Twiggs County, GA, and was also a wounded Confederate veteran.

About 1901 William and Mary followed William’s father south to Berrien County, GA.  The census of 1910 shows them in the Rays Mill district of Berrien County, GA where William was farming on his own account.  William Henry Mixon died on Christmas day, 1915 and was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Children of William and Mary Clance Mixon were:

  1. Annie Bell Mixon: born  Jun 1882 in Wilkinson County, Georgia; married William Carl Griner on 17 Jan 1904;  died 1917 in Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.
  2. Hattie Leona Mixon: born  June 1886 in Wilkinson County GA; married Lee Knox (son of Alton Knox) on 14 Dec 1904 in Berrien County, GA; died 29 Oct 1963 in Colquitt, Georgia.
  3. Mary Lee “Mamie” Mixon: born  1 Jan 1890 in Wilkinson County, GA; married Joseph John “Joe” Spells on 15 Jul 1917 in Berrien County, Georgia; died  29 Jul  1926 in Ray City, Berrien, Georgia; buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Georgia.
  4. Ida Mae Mixon: born 12 Feb 1893 in Wilkinson County, GA; married Joseph Browning about 1921 in Clinch County, GA; died 18 Jun 1980 in Lanier County, GA; buried at Fender Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier, Georgia.
  5. Ethel “Effie” Pearl Mixon; born in Wilkinson County, Georgia on 11 Sep 1899; married Joseph “Leroy” Brown on 25 Aug 1927; died 28 Nov 1984 in Lakeland, Lanier, Georgia; and buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia.
  6. Alva Lorine Mixon: born 25 Mar 1895 in Wilkinson County, GA; married Thomas Henry Kirk about 1910, died 23 Jan 1977 in Lake Worth, Florida.
  7. Samuel E. “Sammie” Mixon;  born 7 Jun 1898 in Wilkinson County, Georgia; died of pneumonia 19 Oct 1918 while serving in France during WWI; buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien, Georgia.
  8. Utha Gertrude Mixon: born 27 May 1902 in Nashville, Berrien , Georgia; married William  Lonnie Royal 21 Jun 1917 in Berrien, Georgia –
    divorced; died 10 Aug 1991 in Columbus, GA; buried at Fender Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier County, Georgia.
  9. Bessie Mixon: born 9 Jun 1906 at Nashville, Georgia; died 11 Jul 1908; buried between her parents at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Georgia.
Mary I. Clance, circa 1948. Married 1) William H. Mixon, 2) H.T. Cearsey. Image courtesy of http://royalmixon.tribalpages.com/

Mary I. Clance, circa 1948. Married 1) William H. Mixon, 2) H.T. Cearsey. Image courtesy of http://royalmixon.tribalpages.com/

Grave marker of William Henry Mixon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of William Henry Mixon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

After the death of William Henry Mixon, his widow, Mary Clance Mixon, married Henry Thomas Cersey. When she died in 1948, she was buried near her first husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Nashville Herald
August 26, 1948
Mrs. Mary Cersey, 83, Died last Saturday; Final Rites Monday     Mrs. Mary Cersey, lifetime resident of Berrien County, died in a Hahira Hospital Saturday afternoon after a long illness. A resident of Ray City, she was 83 years of age, having been born in Wilkerson County on May 26, 1863.
     Mrs. Cersey is survived by five daughters, Mrs. Lee Macks, Moultrie; Mrs. Joseph Browning, Ray City; Mrs. Oliver L. Kirk, Lakewood, Fla; Mrs. Effie Brown, Ray City; and Mrs. Lonnie Royals, Stockton; two sisters, Mrs. J. E. Kitchens and Mrs. J. W. Coleman, Wintergreen, Fla; 20 grandchildern, and 36 great-grandchildren.
     Funeral services were conducted Monday afternoon at 3 o’clock at Beaver Dam Primitive Baptist church by Elder C. H. Vickers and Elder M. E. Peavy.  Interment was in the church cemetery at Ray City. Active pallbearers were D. J. Skinner, J. T. Richardson, G. B. McLendon, B. J. Akridge, O. V. Conner, and M. W. McLendon, Honorary pallbearers were G. G. Mikell, O. W. Mikell, B. F. Skinner and J. J. Spell.  A selected choir sang Primitive hymns.

NOTE: Beaver Dam church (now known as Ray City Baptist Church) was not Primitive Baptist.  The Primitive Baptist church in Ray City was New Ramah Church.  Charlie Vickers and Marcus Peavey were pastors at New Ramah.

Grave marker of Mary I. Mixon Cersey, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Mary I. Mixon Cersey, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Images and information on Mixon family history contributed in part by http://royalmixon.tribalpages.com/

Mamie Mixon and Joe Spells

Mary Lee “Mamie” Mixon was born on New Year’s Day, 1890, a daughter of Mary I. Clance and William Henry Mixon. The census of 1910 shows Mamie living with her parents in the Rays Mill district of Berrien County, GA where her father was farming on his own account. On Christmas day, 1915 her father died; he was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Before a year had passed, on October 29, 1916 Mamie’s widowed mother remarried. Mamie’s new step-father was Henry Thomas Cersey.

The following summer Mamie herself was a bride. She married Joseph John “Joe” Spells on July 15, 1917 in Berrien County, Georgia.  He was a son of Mary Matilda Browning and George Spells, a pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA. The marriage was performed by Lyman Franklin Giddens, Justice of the Peace in Ray City.

Marriage certificate of Mamie Mixon and Joe Spells.

Marriage certificate of Mamie Mixon and Joe Spells.

At 22, Joe Spells was tall with a medium build, blue eyes and light-colored hair. He was working for his brother, William, as a farmer. At the time, Joe Spells was illiterate, signing his WWI draft registration with his “X” mark.

Joe Spells registered for selective service for World War I in 1917.  He was drafted and served in WWI as did Mamie’s brother, Sammie E. Mixon. Sammie died of pneumonia while serving in France, but Joe survived the war and came home to Mamie.

After the war, the Spells made their home on the farm of Mamie’s step-father, Henry T. Cersey, located in the 1157 Georgia Militia District on the Nashville and Valdosta Road. Joe worked as a laborer.

Joe and Mamie Spells had two children:

  1. Joseph W. Spells, born May 1, 1918; Ray City High School class of 1937; married Eloise McKay (Nov 5, 1914 – July 7, 1986);  died in Winter Park, Florida July 7, 1986.
  2. Edward Samuel Spells, born April 25, 1921, Ray City, Berrien County, GA and died June 2, 1992, Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL

A third child, a baby girl, was born and died in the summer of 1926. According to records, the child died on July 30, 1926, although the death certificate was not filed until August 4, 1926. The death certificate attributed the cause of death to “convulsions in childbirth.”  The infant girl was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Death Certificate for infant girl Spells, daughter of Mamie and Joe Spells, Ray City, GA..

Death Certificate for infant girl Spells, daughter of Mamie and Joe Spells, Ray City, GA..

Mamie Spells would survive her daughter by only one day.  She was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Mamie Mixon Spells

Mrs. Joe Spells Passed Away Sat. July 31

The funeral services for Mrs. Joe Spells who died at the home of her mother, Mrs. H. T. Cersey, Saturday, July 31, were conducted last Sunday morning at the Baptist church at Ray City at 11 o’clock in the presence of a large crowd of relatives and friends. Mrs. Spells was 36 years of age and was a member of the Ray City Baptist church and was a christian woman, a true wife, a loving daughter and mother. To know her was to love her. She had been in declining health for some time, but was in bed only about ten days. Her death was not unexpected to her love ones, but was a shock to her friends who knew not of her illness.

She is survived by her husband and two small children, J. W. and Edward, 8 and 5 years old respectively; her mother and five sisters. They are Mrs. Lee Knox and Mrs. Lonnie Royals, of Ray City, GA.; Mrs. Joe Browning, of Lakeland, GA.; Mrs. Effie Chance, of Macon,GA., and Mrs. J.H. Kirk, of West Palm Beach, Fla.

_____________________________

CARD OF THANKS

We wish to take this method of thanking our many friends for the kindness shown us during the illness and death of our wife, daughter and sister, Mrs. Joe Spells.

Mr. and Mrs. H. T. Cersey.
Mrs. Lee Knox.
Mrs. Joe Browning.
Mrs. Effie Chance.
Mrs. Lonnie Royals.

The Census of 1930 shows the  widower Joe Spells and his two sons living in the Rays Mill Precinct, Georgia Militia District 1144.  Also living with them was Mamie’s  widowed mother,  Mary Mixon Cersey.

Joe Spells later remarried.  He died in 1961 and was also buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Daily Times
Spell, Joseph John March 12, 1961

Joe Spell

      LAKELAND- Joe Spell, 65, died at the local hospital early Sunday morning following a sudden attack suffered Saturday morning. He was born and had lived all his life in the Lower Tenth District section of Berrien County where he was a prominent farmer.   Mr. Spell was a veteran of World War I and a member of the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City

      Survivors include his wife, the former Matilda Richardson: two sons M Sgt J. W. Spell with the U. S. Air Force in Germany; Edward Samuel Spell of Atlanta; three sisters, Mrs. Henry Spires of Adel, Mrs. Cauley Downing of Florida and Mrs. Morris Daniels of Jacksonville, Fla.: one brother, John Spell of Valdosta: seven grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews.

      Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 3 p. m. at New Ramah Church with burial in Beaver Dam Cemetery with Music Funeral Home of Lakeland in charge. The body will remain at the home of his brother-in-law, Pope Howell until the hour of the service.

Armistice Day Memorial to Soldiers from Berrien County, GA Killed During WWI

Berrien County, GA soldiers who died in WWI including many who died in the sinking of the HMS Otranto off the coast of Islay, Scotland on October 6, 1918.   To view larger images, scroll down and click icons below.

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The U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

Armistice Day  is on November 11 and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.